The Insiders: Left-footed Democrats try to dance to the right
By Ed Rogers Updated: May 5 at 5:12 pm
It’s not new for Democrats to pretend to be moderate when they’re back at home and then turn around and act completely differently in Washington. Vulnerable Democrats, including at least Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), are going through the unflattering exercise of having to hide their records before the 2014 elections. Pryor and his fellow senators all overwhelmingly supported the Obama agenda in Washington, but now, six months from November, they are awkwardly attempting to reconnect with their constituents in an election year that is looking more and more positive for Republicans. Pryor, being from deep-red Arkansas — where Obama received only 37 percent of the vote in 2012 — may have the greatest challenge.
A perfect example of this is Pryor’s recent comments in an interview with The Post’s David Fahrenthold. He made some toe-curling, self-serving statements that almost make you feel bad he has to work so hard to hide his record in Washington when he’s back at home in Arkansas. It’s almost embarrassing to watch Democrats with two left feet try to dance to the right. Pryor said there wasn’t “one issue, or one cause” that got him involved in politics. Instead, he says, he got involved because he “just believes in good government, and working hard.” Really? He just believes in good government? Maybe Pryor forgot that politics is his family business. Maybe he thinks we’ve forgotten he’s following in the footsteps of his father, former Arkansas governor and U.S. Sen. David Pryor; or that he entered government almost directly after graduating from the University of Arkansas.
Pryor wants to spin his record in Washington to make himself seem benign and low-key as he reaches out to his constituents. I can almost hear him blurting out, in an effort to reassure those voters, “I’m just downright irrelevant these days in Washington.” Red-state Democratic senators want their constituents to believe that they are beleaguered and immaterial, but their voting records don’t lie. Even if Pryor claims he is not in Washington “to represent the president or his party,” the reality is that voting with the president over 90 percent of the time does not make Pryor “the most independent Senator in Washington.” While Fahrenthold suggested that Pryor is trying to foster a “neutral” profile in Arkansas, it’s hard to claim neutrality when you support the Obama-Reid agenda 91 percent of the time.
Pryor, like some of his fellow vulnerable Democrats on the ballot in 2014, may be low-volume, but he is a completely compliant member of the Democratic majority. The cliché in politics goes, “lead, follow or get out of the way.” Pryor might argue that he mostly gets out of the way, but all that means it that he is not lifting a finger to thwart the liberal agenda, which includes Obamacare, a war on coal, stopping the Keystone XL pipeline, punitive climate change crusades, more taxes and job-killing regulations and other goals the president has stated he will pursue. Senate Democrats like Mark Pryor are obeying Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama at the country’s expense, and voters shouldn’t forget that.